Located right in the middle of the world, Ecuador is a South American nation with a growing economy and a recently improved higher education system. Recent changes in universities and education laws have made Ecuador an attractive destination for international students. And if you combine this with affordable prices and the U.S. dollar as its official currency, this country is perfect for those who want to complete a major in the southern area of the New World. In this article, we will be looking at the cheap tuition universities in Ecuador.

A couple of years ago, the government of Ecuador decided to implement a process of renovation and improvement in the higher education system. They classified universities according to their quality and those in the last category were given three years to change their situation.

In 2012, 14 universities were closed and eight more were limited and sanctioned. As for 2019, 17 higher education institutions have been closed for not meeting the quality standards.

Also, a couple of new institutions were opened to cover certain education gaps, which include a pedagogical, research, and a regional university. They also increased the number of scholarships and loans offered.

How does the higher education system work in Ecuador?

Higher institutions in Ecuador divide into polytechnic schools, private, and public universities. There are around 55 of them and three additional ones that only offer graduate and post-graduate programs.


How is the admission process at Ecuador’s universities?

Admissions at public universities are done through a national aptitude exam that has no age restrictions. This exam also applies to international students.

Some private universities are also included in the national aptitude exam, but there are others that have their own admission process.


How expensive are universities in Ecuador?

Since 2008, public universities in Ecuador became tuition-free. This is one of the reasons why the majority of the students (around 80%) are enrolled at public universities.

Tuition fees for international students at private universities can go from 2,000 USD to 6,000 USD per year. For certain majors like medicine or architecture, tuition can cost around 2,000 USD more.


What is the language of instruction at universities in Ecuador?

Spanish is the official language of Ecuador, therefore, the majority of the programs are taught in this language. Many universities have information and assistance available in English, but the number of programs in English is extremely limited.

Studying in Ecuador is perfect for those who speak Spanish or want to learn it.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students


What about living costs in Ecuador?

Since the early 2000s, the official currency of Ecuador is the U.S. dollar. This can be a good thing for some international students as payments will be easier and less confusing.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost between 350 and 400 USD per month. In other areas, renting the same apartment can cost between 200 and 300 USD.

The cost of the familiar food basket is around 700 USD, so you can expect to spend between 150 and 200 USD as a student living alone. Your monthly budget for transportation should be 20 USD.


Cheap Universities in Ecuador

1. The University of San Francisco in Quito

The University of San Francisco in Quito (USFQ) was founded in 1988 as a private university of liberal arts. It is considered the best university in Ecuador by the QS World University Ranking, which places it between the 751st and the 800th best universities in the world.

Along with their main campus in Quito, there are two satellite campuses in Cumbayá and the Galapagos Islands. They offer programs related to biology and the environment.

This cheap university in Ecuador divides into ten schools of health, music, sciences and engineering, administration and economy, interior design and architecture, environmental and biological sciences, social and human sciences, among others.

These schools offer over 50 bachelor’s and master’s programs. There are also around 17 research institutes, a business school, and an online extension department that offers degree programs online.

Admissions for international students are done through an entrance exam. In order to be admitted, prospective students also need a high school diploma recognized by the Minister of Education and a student visa.

Tuition fees go from 4,000 USD to 5,500 USD per semester. This includes the majors of engineering, medicine, and dentistry. The programs at the Galapagos campus cost less than 1,000 USD per year.


2. National Polytechnic School (EPN)

Originally founded in 1869, the National Polytechnic School (EPN) was closed seven years after its establishment and was reopened in the 1930s. They are leaders in areas of scientific and technological research and education.

It is considered the second-best university in Ecuador by the QS World University Ranking, placing it between the 801st and the 1000th best universities in the world.

It has eight faculties that focus on different areas of science, which include engineering, geology, oil, and the environment. They offer 22 bachelor’s degree programs, 12 master’s degree programs, and different doctoral programs and specializations.

This affordable university in Ecuador has modern facilities. Some of them include a particle accelerator, an astronomical observatory, and a museum of natural history. There are also multiple research centers, institutes, and laboratories.

Admissions are done through an entrance exam. After students are admitted, they have to study and pass a preparatory semester before actually starting their major. Check their website to learn more. Remember to select your preferred language when exploring it. The drop-down language menu is available under the search box.


3. Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE)

Next on our list of the cheap university in Ecuador is the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. It was founded in 1946, which makes it the oldest university in this country. According to the QS World University Ranking, it is the fourth-best in Ecuador, placing it between the 801st and the 1000th best universities in the world.

It has multiple campuses throughout the country in the cities of Quito (the main one), Ibarra, Manabí, Esmeraldas, Ambato, and Santo Domingo.

The university has 13 faculties and a school of social work that offer bachelor, master, and doctoral degree programs. The Faculty of Educational Sciences offers programs that are partially taught online.

PUCE recently reviewed the curricula of the majors offered and redesigned some of them. They also introduced new programs.

Additionally, the university has two museums, one cultural center, and one research station.

The admission process consists of an entrance exam which is different from the national aptitude exam.

Tuition fees are divided into categories depending on the number of credits that students take per semester. Tuition fees for 16 credits or more go from 1,900 USD to 5,589 USD.


4. University of Cuenca

The University of Cuenca was founded in 1867 as a public university. It was the first one in the city and in the Southern region.

It has 12 faculties of architecture and urbanism, administrative and economic sciences, hospitality, agriculture and livestock, literature and education, jurisprudence and political and social sciences, engineering, psychology, dentistry, medical sciences, chemical sciences, and arts.

The university has five campuses: the Central campus (Cuenca), the Historical Center campus, the Paraíso campus, the Yanuncay campus, and the Eco-campus.

This affordable university in Ecuador also has seven research departments that develop projects in six areas. Many of them are published by the university in their own magazine.

Admissions are done through the national aptitude exam system. Check their website to get more details. Don’t forget to select your preferred language on their drop-down menu located in the bottom right corner.


5. Business and Technological University of Guayaquil (UTEG)

The Business and Technological University of Guayaquil (UTEG) was established almost 20 years ago, in 2000, as a private university. This university is known for having very flexible options for students.

This cheap university in Ecuador has four modalities of education. The first one is in-person, which offers 14 bachelor’s degrees. Then, there is distance education, which offers six bachelor’s degrees. Online education, which also offers six bachelor’s degrees. And lastly, the semi-virtual modality, which has one bachelor degree program, and students only receive in-person classes on Saturdays.

The admission process at UTEG consists of submitting the required documents. The whole process can be done online. You can schedule an appointment to get more information here.


6. The State University of Southern Manabí (UNESUM)

The State University of the South of Manabí (UNESUM) was also recently founded. It was established 18 years ago in 2001 as a public university.

It has four faculties of technical sciences, natural and agricultural sciences, health sciences, and economic sciences. They offer 13 bachelor’s degree programs.

UNESUM also has a research department, a library, and a publishing house.

Admissions are done through the national aptitude exam system. Visit their website to learn more. To change the language, click on the drop-down language menu at the end of the page.


7. Casa Grande University

Casa Grande University was established in 1999 as a private university in the city of Guayaquil. It has three faculties of human ecology, education, and development; administration and political sciences; and communications.

These faculties offer 13 bachelor’s degree programs and six master’s degree programs.

Besides submitting the required documents, admissions include a test. This test has a vocational section, a general abilities section, and an English section.

In this cheap university in Ecuador, tuition fees for bachelor’s degree programs are calculated per course or subject. Each course costs between 368 USD and 552 USD plus other administrative expenses.

Tuition fees for postgraduate degree programs go from 8,500 USD to 11,500 USD.


8. Espíritu Santo University (UEES)

Founded in 1993, Espíritu Santo University (UEES) is a private university with a great reputation in Ecuador and one of the best business schools in the country.

It has eight faculties, one school, and one postgraduate faculty. Bachelor and postgraduate degree programs are available for both in-person and online classes.

The modern facilities and curricula of this university are perfect for international students. The majority of the programs are bilingual, so you’ll have classes in English and Spanish. The only exception is the School of International Studies, which has programs that are completely taught in English.

Along with classrooms, the university has cutting-edge facilities that include a simulation laboratory for the faculty of medicine, a digital sound and musical production lab, a microbiology lab, among others.

The UEES also has its own system of buses, student residences, and a sports center. To learn more about admissions and tuition fees for international students, contact them.


We hope that this article on cheap universities in Ecuador was helpful. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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  1. Omar - Reply

    I’m Somalian. Can I apply to a university in Ecuador?

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      Yes, universities in Ecuador don’t have any nationality limitations.

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